Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto may not have the electoral approval of the majority of Indonesians (at least according to quick count results of yesterday’s presidential election), but it appears he still has the support of one of his biggest allies, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) founder Rizieq Shihab.
In a video posted today by FPI’s Twitter account, Prabowo, presumably fresh off declaring his victory yesterday (based on his campaign’s exit polls tally), got on the phone with Rizieq, who is currently in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia (having fled Indonesia over pornography charges made against him that have since been dropped).
Saat Pak Presiden Prabowo Subianto menerima Telp Sang Imam Besar, dan mengucapkan terimakasihnya kpd Ijtima' Ulama, serta berencana Umroh dan sujud syukur depan Ka'bah. pic.twitter.com/Ahw2AyBD0e
— Front Pembela Islam (@FPI_Petamburan) April 18, 2019
In the video, Prabowo begins by thanking Rizieq and other ulemas for the support they gave him. They then make plans to meet up.
“After this I will depart for Umrah [pilgrimage in Mecca]. We will prostrate in front of the Kaaba together,” Prabowo tells Rizieq over the phone in the video
Another video posted by FPI showed the other side of the call, with Rizieq in jovial spirits as he prays for Prabowo over the phone.
Saat sang Imam Besar menghubungi Presiden Prabowo Subianto dan Mengucapkan SELAMAT atas kemenangannya, yg berarti kemenangan kita semua.
— Front Pembela Islam (@FPI_Petamburan) April 17, 2019
“This is extraordinary. This (Prabowo’s supposed victory) is the work of all of us who struggled,” Rizieq told Prabowo.
One thing that wasn’t brought up in their call (at least the parts they shared with the public) was whether Prabowo still intends to fulfill his promise of personally bringing Rizieq back to Indonesia in his private jet should he win.
Rizieq is currently still in Saudi Arabia, where he has spent more than a year hiding from Indonesian law enforcement. Although police dropped his suspect status in the infamous pornography case that first led him to flee and stay out of his country, the FPI leader still has numerous legal cases at various stages pending against him including charges of blasphemy against Christianity and state symbols.
Prabowo’s campaign was closely affiliated with hardline Islamist groups, which Rizieq — their self-proclaimed “Grand Imam” — holds great influence over. It remains to be seen if the alliance will last beyond the election, especially if Prabowo’s loss in yesterday’s election is made official by the General Election Commission (KPU).